- Although the flesh of the almaco jack is considered quality table fare, the species has been associated with ciguatera poisoning, a seldom fatal stomach irritation.
- The almaco jack is susceptible to tapeworm parasites in the caudal peduncle area, but the meat can be eaten safely if affected portions are cut away.
Sheepshead have a compressed body with a shape somewhere between the round disk of a spadefish and the elongated form of a bass or trout. Coloration is silvery to yellowish white with an olive-brown back and five or six distinct black vertical bands on the side (from which they get their common name convict fish, with the oddity that some fish have a different number of stripes on their two sides. These stripes fade with age. The mouth is small to medium size and the have long, flat, incisor-like teeth that they use to crush the shells of mollusks and crustaceans.
Sheepshead have specially designed long, flat teeth for the crushing of mollusk and crustacean shells so they are able to consume the soft animal inside. Sheepshead are browsing feeders that forage by bouncing alone rock pilings, wharves, jetties and other structures. They travel in schools while they feed. Favored prey include oysters, mussels, sea urchins and crabs, especially fiddler crabs. They also consume numerous barnacles.
Sheepshead are found in the western Atlantic Ocean from Nova Scotia to Brazil, including the northern Gulf of Mexico but excluding the southern Gulf of Mexico, the Bahamas, the West Indies, Bermuda and Grenada. Along the United States coast they are rarely found above the Carolinas in winter.
Sheepshead are associated with underwater structure such as jetty rocks, piers, pilings and bulkheads and can also be found near navigation markers. They inhabit water up to 50 feet in depth in bays, estuaries and along mangroves, and often enter brackish and even freshwater areas. Because of their feeding habits they can often be found around oyster bars and seawalls. The only migration sheepshead undertake is out to sea in cold months and back inshore at spring. They prefer water temperature at 60 F or above.
- Sheepshead are the most popular member of the Sparidae family of porgies among saltwater anglers in the U.S.
- Sheepshead are famed nibblers of food and are thought to have inspired the fishing phrase anglers must strike just before they bite.